Changes to costs and procedure for holiday sickness claims were announced by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) on Friday. The thrust of the reforms is to crack down on fraudulent claims relating to illness said to have been contracted during a package holiday.
As expected, further material released today (16 April 2018) by the MoJ confirms that holiday sickness claims will, from 7 May 2018, be subject to:
- a new Pre-Action Protocol (PAP) set out in the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR), and
- fixed legal costs at the same scale as currently applies to public liability claims (to be found at table 6D of CPR part 45.29E)
The new PAP applies to all package holiday gastric illness* claims valued under £25,000 and notified on or after 7 May 2018, regardless of when the alleged illness was sustained. It is similar to the general personal injury PAP and does not - unlike the specific low value PAPs for motor and for EL/PL claims - require electronic notification via Claims Portal Co.
The new PAP specifies the information to be included with a letter of claim, which defendants are required to acknowledge within 42 days and to investigate and respond (in standard formats) on liability within a further 6 months. The PAP also includes sections dealing with disclosure, negotiations, alternative dispute resolution and expert evidence (where there is an expectation that a GP report will be adequate for claims in which symptoms lasted for less than 28 days).
[*“Gastric illness” is defined in the PAP as “any gastrointestinal illness arising from a breach of contract or breach of statutory duty or common law duty in respect of services, food and beverages provided in relation to a package holiday”. It follows that holiday accident claims are excluded, as are claims which would be subject to either the Athens or Montreal conventions.]